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Monday, November 30, 2015

I'm Happy For You (Sort Of...Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma {A FlyBy Review and Giveaway}

Sometimes, over the course of reading a book or watching a TV show, you really connect with the author or TV personality.  You think, "If we ever had the chance to meet, I know we would be fast friends."  That is exactly how I felt reading, I'm Happy for You. 

About I’m Happy For You (Sort Of…Not Really)Our cultural obsession with comparison is undercutting relationships and sapping contentment. With disarming candor and humor, Kay Wills Wyma explores how to trade comparison for compassion and rediscover what life is all about.
It’s easy to get caught in the comparison games we play with our appearances, our kids, and our homes. Kay reminds exhausted families about tried and true remedies from the pressures of competitive living.
In her warm, relatable style, Kay confronts the comparison epidemic raging in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our social-media feeds, offering remedies along the way.
With candor and humor, I’m Happy For You (Sort Of…Not Really) explores the troubling effects of living in an excessively competitive culture—and reveals simple yet effective ways to escape the comparison trap.
 About the AuthorKay Wills Wyma is a blogger, mother of five, and the author of Cleaning House through which she has appeared on The TODAY Show, CNN, Glenn Beck, The New York Times, Focus on the Family, and more. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, she held positions at the White House, the Staubach Company, and Bank of America. Kay lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Jon, and their family.

OBM says:  I've been dog-earring pages in this book left and right.  It's like Kay Wills Wyma is speaking what is in my head.  Comparison is something I really struggle with, and so many things really spoke to me like, "We measure ourselves against other people who are measuring themselves against other people."  I had never thought of it that way.  And that's just one tidbit-there are so many more.  I'm really trying to be intentional about being happy for other people now.  Removing myself from the equation and making it not a competition, but something I can be glad for them for.  It takes effort, because it's contrary to the default setting of my brain, but it's part of taking every thought captive, and SO necessary for finding contentment.

If you want to read more of Kay Wills Wyma's writings, you can follow her blog.   Kay is blogging about how she has started to #HydrateForTheHolidays, so you want to check that out.  Or follow the MOAT Blog on Facebook or on Twitter.  Go to Amazon to buy I'm Happy For You (Sort Of ...Not Really). 

U.S. and Canada residents can enter below to win a copy of I'm Happy For You (Sort Of...Not Really) below.

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Adore by Chris Tomlin {A FlyBy Review and Giveaway}

I'll let you in on a little secret...this year, I was listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and it was awesome.  Adore by Chris Tomlin is the perfect mix of traditional classics and original Christmas songs.
1. He Shall Reign Forevermore
2. Adore
3. Midnight Clear (Love Song)
4. Noel featuring Lauren Daigle 
5. Hymn Of Joy 
6. Silent Night featuring Kristyn Getty 
7. What Child Is This? featuring Sons & Daughters 
8. It's Christmas
9. A King Like This
10. Bethlehem

11. A Christmas Alleluia featuring Lauren Daigle & Leslie Jordan of All Sons & Daughters 

Chris Tomlin is an American contemporary Christian music artist, worship leader, and songwriter who has sold nearly 30 million records.  Some of his most well-known songs are "How Great Is Our God", "Jesus Messiah", "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)", "Our God", and "Whom Shall I Fear".  His 2013 album Burning Lights debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, only the fourth Christian album ever to open at No.1.  Throughout his career, Chris has been nominated for 32 Dove Awards (6 of them collaborative efforts) and he has won 19 of them.  
OBM says:  Just today, I was listening to the radio, and "Adore" came on.  I was so excited.  But I have to say our favorite from this album is probably Silent Night.  Kristyn Getty is just enchanting.  And I did NOT know she was the writer of one of my favorite hymns of all times, "In Christ Alone."  What a wonderful collaboration, as are the songs with All Sons and Daughters and Lauren Daigle.  Adore was just what I needed to kick off the Christmas season, and it's living in my car's CD player right now so that whenever our local station isn't satisfying our need for Christmas music, we just "press play" and are transported to Christmas.

You can check out Adore on Facebook or Chris Tomlin on Twitter.

If you'd like a chance to WIN this album, just enter below.  But if you want to know for sure that it's yours, hop on over to iTunes and buy Adore.

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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 30

I'm super thankful that today I get to post not one, but two giveaways!  What a wonderful blessing this time of year.  And I'm thankful that I finally got my daughter's small 16th birthday celebration pulled together.  She had a big, joint party with her BFF on the volleyball team with all the team members, but that left out two of Mimi's friends.  So I have had the best of intentions of organizing this trip to the pottery painting place for, well, 6 weeks now.  And today it finally came together.  Yay!
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 29

I'm thankful for a 10 year old who loves to decorate the Christmas tree.  It seems in this busy season of life, there is never time for anything, even getting the tree done.  But she took it upon herself to decorate the tree once I had it up.  She loves the ornaments, and I love to watch her unwrap each one from the tissue paper and exclaim over it some fond memory or thing she loves about it.  It's awesome that she is really into this right now, and I'm very thankful for her drive and passion.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 24

I'm super thankful today for the unexpected blessing of an equity check from our mortgage company (extra funds after the loan payoff) and for today marking the LAST payment related to that house-the power bill-being paid.  Happy bonus!  God is faithful all the time.  Now, off to pay some more bills ;).
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Monday, November 23, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 23

I'm thankful I got the chance to shoot my kids today.  Tee-hee.  That sounds wrong!  Taking their photo has become somewhat of an ordeal with varying schedules for each and their just general getting-older-and-less-happy-to-pose-for-Mom's-camera stage in life, but we got it done, even with the girls both feeling under the weather.  It was COLD-43 degrees-but they were troopers.  There *might* have been some Starbucks bribery involved.  I won't show the finished product that I'm using for Christmas this year, but here's a different one from the same shoot. (You might have to click on it to see it better).

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 22

I'm thankful for our neighbors.  We have great neighbors.  I know not everyone can say that, but I can.  Today, Sari spent all day with 2 of her BFFs (sisters) who live 2 houses down.  She is doing a praise dance class at their church, and they are performing it Christmas Eve.  She couldn't be more excited.  She's down at their house a TON, and it will be hard when we move, as having friends in the neighborhood is something she has really grown to treasure.

And the little boy next door?  He's just a cutie-patootie!

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 21

SPLASH!  I'm thankful for Splash.  Splash is an event that takes place on college campuses across the country where, for one day, the college students get to teach classes to high schoolers about any topic they want.  The high schoolers then sign up for the Splash event, and enroll in specific class that interest them.  In the past two weeks, my kids have taken classes on Chinese yo-yo, martial arts, water conservation, trolley problems (ethical dilemmas), and more at both Duke (2 weeks ago) and UNC today.  It's a great chance for them to experience a college campus, broaden their horizons (Wet and Wild wasn't quite what TJ thought it would be, but he's quoted the water stats from it numerous times), and sometimes even made new friends, as many homeschoolers do these events.  It's also allowed me to watch them go through the class choices and wisely discern which ones hold worldviews contrary to our own and then, without any prompting form me, not take those classes.  Baby steps into the real, unfiltered world they will live in very soon.  So I'm thankful for the colleges that give of their resources and the college students who give of their time to make Splash possible.

(These pictures are NOT mine-they are from the Splash UNC website and taken in the Spring session-TJ was too young for that one. Mimi took a cake decorating class.)

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 15

I'm thankful for an offhanded remark my Precept teacher jokingly made about one of her sons being her favorite child because he was the one who called every week.  Those tongue-in-cheek words were a great reminder to ME that I need to be better at reaching out to my mom and family.  I'm such an introvert that I'm comfortable going extended periods of time without actually speaking with people, but that doesn't mean they aren't constantly in my thoughts and prayers.  Unfortunately, they don't know that, lol.  Every since my teacher's comment, I have made an effort to give my mom a call and "check in" with her.  I'm so blessed that my mother is still here-her mother died at a young age-and I want her to know she is important to me.
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Saturday, November 14, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 14

I'm thankful my man is back in town.  He was, ironically, in Orlando for a conference, but he got home around noon today.  We've had a lazy "welcome home" afternoon full of watching Mr. Holmes-good, but really slow, and snacking, and then a turkey dinner since turkey is yummy and on sale right now.  It's great to have him home again.
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30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 13

Today, I'm thankful for George Washington.  Okay, that's kind of tongue-in-cheek, although he was an amazing guy.  But today I got to teach in the elementary class of our other co-op...a history one.  And although I taught on the Civil War, and Beth and I did fun games and interactive lesson  activities and read a book, etc., when it came time to do review, one little boy answered  an enthusiastic "George Washington" to everything.  He and his 6 siblings were adopted from Asia...Latvia or Ukraine or something like that...just last year, so it's amazing how well they already interact and do so well in English, which is NOT their native tongue...but clearly sometimes it gets to be a bit much for this little guy and good ole' George is his default answer.  It was awesome.  I'm thankful for his family answering God's call for adoption of this large sibling group, and I'm thankful for the G.W. chuckle.
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 12

I'm thankful for our co-op.  Joining a co-op was a big deal for us.  I tend to be a rogue.  I like to set my own schedule.  A co-op means I'm on someone else's schedule.  But after a year of being in this co-op, it's truly become "our people."  It's HUGE...500 people from 100 families, but God centered, and accommodates all ages from babies to seniors with Bibles studies for moms.  Tonight, we had our family night, and I loved the opportunity to share the hard work my students put into their portrait projects for the Portraiture class I co-taught.  Their work looked amazing.  I'm so proud of my middle-schoolers.

Other groups gave presentations, and I had a great time sitting next to my friend Beth.  I thought her daughters were going to have to separate us, LOL.  I'm so thankful God led us to this co-op and our new friends.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 11

I'm thankful for a few new photography online groups I've joined in the past year.  They really challenge me to expand my horizons and become a better photographer.  Plus, they are both groups that are super supportive of their members and really make helping everyone become a better photographer a priority.  I learn something new everyday, and I'm truly thankful for them.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 10

I'm thankful for my husband's job.  Not only does it provide for us, it also is the reason we now call NC home.  While, like any job, it has its moments of frustrating-ness, he is surrounded be kindred spirits and he really excels at what he does.  Plus, he gets to travel to lots of fun places, and sometimes I get to tag along, like when I went to Edinburgh with him this summer.  So I'm very thankful for his job and the company he works for.
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Monday, November 9, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 9

I have some really awesome teens.  I'm thankful for the young adults they are becoming.  I find daily that I truly enjoy their company more and more.  We laugh and laugh together.  We watch nerdy TV shows.  We play games.  I'm blessed to watch them as they mature and figure out God's calling on their life.  Another mom at church told me how awesome TJ is to work with in the preschool class and how much the kids love him.  In addition to working with the toddlers at church, Mimi is volunteering with her friend to watch kids whose parents attend an ESL class, which lets her practice her Japanese as well.  They are thrilled to have her help.

Today, TJ held the door for a woman in the rain, and she was really, visibly impressed and thanked him heartily. I love that.  I'm thankful that they are so enjoyable and stable given the high level of crazy they live with on a daily basis.  God has truly blessed me, and I am thankful.
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Faith of Our Fathers {A FlyBy Review}

Pure Flix Entertainment, the company behind God's Not Dead, Do Your Believe, and Woodlawn, have a new movie on out DVD just in time for Veteran's Day.  Faith of Our Fathers premiered in theaters this past July, and stars Stephen Baldwin, Si Robertson, Candace Cameron Bure, and Rebecca St. James.  I got the chance to watch it last night.

About the movie:John Paul and Wayne are two young men in search of their fathers.  Problem is...their fathers have been dead for 25 years.  Eddie and Steven are two young men in search of their sons...whom they've never met.  In 1969, Eddie and Steven are with their squad deep in the jungle of Vietnam on a five-day mission to retrieve fallen comrades.  They write letters to their wives, often mentioning their love for their sons, one, who is an infant and one yet to be born.  In 1994, John Paul and Wayne go on a five day road trip to the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC to see their fathers' names.  Along the way, reading those letters, they begin to get an understanding of who their fathers were and how they died.  Trials and mishaps, both funny and sad, complicate the road trip for the boys.  The horrors of war and the testing of faith manifest themselves for the young men in Vietnam.  Ultimately, in parallel stories - 25 years apart - the fathers and sons are bound together forever.  

OBM says:  I was especially drawn to this film because my father served in Vietnam.  While he did come home alive, he definitely was changed by his experiences over there.  I was intrigued by this story of two men who were seeking to understand their fathers and their experiences in the war.  While some parts of the story are a bit of a stretch to believe,  (that could probably be said of almost every movie, if the truth be told), it was just as described-both funny and sad.  I enjoyed watching Faith of our Fathers, and I will likely allow my children to watch it with me next time.  It does carry a PG-13 rating for brief war violence.

You can visit Faith of Our Fathers on Facebook or Twitter.  U.S. and Canada residents can enter below to win a copy of Faith of Our Fathers for yourself!.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 8

I'm thankful for Precepts Bible studies.  Just about a decade ago, I began my journey with inductive Bible study...using God's Word to study God's Word.  Knowing God for myself-what He says in His word and what it means- is priceless.  There is always an excuse for why not to do it in this busy stage of parenthood, but honestly, there is nothing more valuable I could do with my time.  I'm a better wife, mother, friend, sister, mentor, person, Christ follower for the time I spend in His word.  I'm also SO much more capable of discerning those who accurately handle God's Word and those who don't because I know what it says for myself.  It's worth every second and then some.  So today, I'm thankful for Precept and Kay Arthur and her obedience to God's call on her life.  I look forward to years and years and years more of study that I might know Him.
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Saturday, November 7, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 7

I'm thankful for our first friends in NC, the Red family (names have been changed to protect the innocent, lol).  We met them when we were looking for a rental house, and we have been friends ever since.  We spent tonight at their house celebrating the husband C's birthday, because he thinks my kids are cool because they love to play games.  We played The Resistance and One Night Ultimate Werewolf (which even has a free app to talk you through the game)...oh my goodness, so fun!  A made pizza for dinner, and even made one with a cauliflower crust that I ate a piece of (if you know me, you may be picking you jaw up off the floor right now).  I'll explain the reason for that in another thankful day soon.

Anyway, I'm super thankful that God perfectly orchestrated our meeting and becoming friends, and that Sari loves their girls and their girls love Sari, and that they homeschool too, and that she's just as odd as I am, and that they like to play games too.
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Friday, November 6, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 6

Today, I'm thankful for Landry Academy.  I'm not getting paid to say that, and as far as I can see, they do not have a referral program, so this is a totally unsolicited plug, but I'm thankful for them nonetheless, LOL.

This semester, two of my kids have taken online classes through Landry.  It hasn't been totally smooth sailing, as adjusting to someone who isn't "mom" has taken some getting used to.  But it has been worth it.  Mimi is taking Japanese with Landry.  Learning Japanese was her passion, and, as foreign languages go, it's not the easiest one to come by.  When I saw that Landry offered it, that was really what cemented the deal for us to give them a try.

But they also offer cool programming classes and art and design classes that I just can't teach at home.  Things that will give my kids a chance to experiment with the subject areas that God has gifted them in, and I think is calling them to, without them ever having to step foot on a college campus.  And because Landry deeply discounts advanced purchases of "generic semesters" (which can later be applied to any class you want), each of these classes cost me about $57 a semester-WAY cheaper than anything local.

Mimi came in last night and asked to take a programming class with her design teacher next semester because she likes the teacher so much.  She already has a design class picked out for NEXT fall too.

I mention this because I truly am thankful for them and the blessing they have been to us this year, but also as a "head's-up" because we purchased our initial semesters on a Black Friday sale.  Typically, the semesters are for 18 months out, so you really have to be thinking ahead, but that's what gives you the $57 price instead of the current $390.  BIG difference!  And the great news is they have a tremendous resale value, so if you try them and it isn't for you, you won't lose out, you can just resell your remaining generic semesters.  But I bet you won't, because who doesn't want to learn how to program using Minecraft?
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 5

Volleyball.  I'm thankful for volleyball.  Those are words I never dreamed I'd be saying.  But this year, my girlie decided she wanted to play volleyball.  She made the team, and I became their resident paparazzi ;).  I grew to love those girls and they were so kind to my daughter.  I love the sweet friendships that she has made.

Next year, Sari wants to join the Middle School team too.  At least that will make my life easier :).

Beyond Mimi's friendships, I've made several new friends within the volleyball team parents, and we even have an invite for Thanksgiving, which we are all super excited about.

Who knew volleyball would be such a blessing to our family?  God did, obviously, and I'm so thankful for His plan.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 4

I'm super thankful for FALL.  I love fall.  I love seasons.  I missed seasons while we lived in FL.  And I love having them now that we are in NC.  I love being able to share the change of seasons with my kiddos.  The heat of summer makes me appreciate the cool of fall.  The cold of winter makes me appreciate the warmth of spring.

But the colors of fall?  I've missed those so much.  It's a shallow thing to be thankful for, I know.  But God created such a beautiful world for us to enjoy, and seeing the leaves change colors is something I have really missed.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 3

This boy.  He makes me laugh.  Right now we are sitting here, past bed time, watching The Flash, which he has sucked me into watching with him ;).  I'm thankful for him and the laughter he brings to our family and his obsession with working the word potato into every conversation.
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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 2

My son got a JOB!  It's a huge deal, really.  The older he has gotten, the more "special" his special needs have made him.  For him, the process of finding a job is not the same as it is for the rest of the "normal" population.  He's been working with a job coach for at least 9 months, and it has been a slow process to try out different job experiences and explore his strengths and weaknesses.  He was stymied for a while with a job coach he didn't click with, but as soon as he got his new coach, the job fell into place too.  He hasn't actually started yet, but he's done all the paperwork, and he's ready when they are.

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30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 1

WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!!!!  One year and eleven month to the day, and we finally sold our house in Florida.  God is good, all the time.  He met our needs every day of the past year and eleven months.  And He kept us fully relying on Him.  But with a daughter needing vision therapy and a son needing braces and another daughter getting ready to drive, we were about to be spread even more thin.  And God provided again.  I'm so happy to not be paying for two of everything, but most of all, I'm happy that we finally have both feet in the same state-not straddling the line unable to fully commit to being HERE.  There's still ambiguity as to what exactly the future holds, but I'm happy that that chapter is closed and a new one can begin.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson {A Flyby Review}

Being one of those oddball families that doesn't have cable TV and didn't get swept up in the Duck Dynasty phenomenon, we were late comers to the Duck Dynasty band wagon.  As a Christian though, long before I ever saw the show, I respected what I heard about their values and convictions.  And as I did watch the show, I was impressed with what I saw, with the way they related to each other and the importance of family and their unwavering faith.  So when I had the chance to review Strong and Kind: and Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed by Korie Robertson, I happily volunteered.

About Strong and Kind:
In her new book STRONG and KIND: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed, Korie Robertson - New York Times bestselling author, wife of Duck Commander® CEO Willie Robertson, star of A&E's Duck Dynasty, and mother of five - argues that developing good character in our children is the single most important thing we can do to help ensure they lead happy, healthy adult lives.  Robertson explores key traits and what they truly look like in action, asks readers to select the two traits that they hope to see most in their children, and shares hands-on ways for nurturing strength of character.  Written with her mother Chrys Howard and featuring stories and wisdom from husband Willie, STRONG and KIND cuts through the contemporary cacophony of parenting manuals to rediscover, unfold, and embrace the enduring wisdom that has guided the best parents for centuries. 

 About Korie Robertson:Korie Robertson, wife of Duck Commander® CEO Willie Robertson and star of A&E's beloved series Duck Dynasty, is a mother of five a New York Times bestselling author of several books, including The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks built a Dynasty, written with Willie; Faith Commander: Living Five Values from the Parables with Jesus, written with her mother Chrys Howard; and The Women of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights from the Women Behind the Beards about What Makes this Family Work, written with all of the Robertson wives.  She is also an in-demand public speaker, Duck Commander® executive, entrepreneur and found of boutique Duck and Dressing, and philanthropist, who remains active with a variety of organizations that focus on children, adoption, and foster care.  Korie lives with her family in West Monroe, Louisiana. 

OBM says:  If you've read my blog much at all, you know I'm not a big "self help" sort of gal.  And as a mother of 4, with my youngest being 10, it's a little late in the game for most parenting advice.  I say both of those things so you can be suitably impressed when I say I have really enjoyed Strong and Kind.   I found the premise of thinking of what 2 traits I'd like to see most in my children to be something I hadn't really considered.  And I found much of the advice really echoed Biblical truths that have been particularly powerful to me.  The idea in chapter 6 of seeing your child as the adult you want them to be was like a big "why have I never thought of it that way" moment to me.  It's the same "begin with the end in mind" wisdom as another popular book offers up, but this time applied to parenting, not career.  Sometimes, you just need to hear someone else say something you already know in a slightly different way for it to click, and that happened a lot for me in just the first third of the book I've read.  (I'm kind of savoring it and working my way through it more slowly.)  I can't wait to finish it, and I definitely recommend it to other parents no matter what ages your kids are.

Strong and Kind is available TODAY.  To learn more, visit Strong and Kind's official website.  Korie's Facebook page and Twitter account have more information and her Instagram account has lots of fun pictures!

If you'd like to have a chance to win your own copy of Strong and Kind, just enter below.  Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

FINDING NOAH {A Flyby Review}

Guess what I was watching Sunday night?  This super-cool new documentary called FINDING NOAH, coming to theaters for ONE day only on October 8th.

For over 2,000 years, man has been searching for the final resting place of Noah's Ark.  Though there have been many attempts, few have been able to fully explore the one place specifically noted in the Bible: Mount Ararat.  Located in Eastern Turkey, Agri Dagh or "The Painful Mountain" is the tallest mountain in the region and lies in the very center of a centuries old, geo-politically unstable hot spot.  With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, let alone those performing a thorough scientific investigation.
 Join director/producer Brent Baum and the FINDING NOAH film crew as they follow an expedition of intrepid explorers on a perilous trek up to Mt. Ararat's desolate summit.  There, using state of the art technology and real-time satellite imagery, this team of archeologists, scientists and professional mountaineers will begin a grid work of exploration unlike any before, hoping to finally resolve the age-old question:  did Noah and his Ark actually exist?
 Shot in never-before filmed locations in the harshest of conditions, this unprecedented feature-length documentary shows just how far men are willing to go to discover the truth.  Narrated by Academy Award nominee Gary Sinise, FINDING NOAH is more than a quest for answers, it is a testament of the human spirit, where belief and the need for exploration transcend risk and limitation.  

 OBM says:  FINDING NOAH was such an eye opener,  First, to hear about so many eyewitness accounts of the ark (some of which I had heard before, but some were new to me).  Second, to see such a diverse team come together for the spiritual and scientific purpose of finding the ark on Mt. Ararat.  Third, to learn of all the turbulence in the area, and the extreme difficulties of getting up there at all.  And finally, to learn that this group has been pursuing the ark with trips up Ararat for years.  The end of the movie is a great reminder of the sovereignty of God in all things.  I enjoyed it so much, I went back and rewatched the beginning now that I knew who everyone was on the mountain, just to again be reminded of their backgrounds in everyday life, because they all really work well together against incredible odds to get the job done that they need to do.  While vastly interesting to me as a Christian, I think this movie is interesting to anyone who enjoys mountain climbing or history or just seeing people try to find proof of something that is thought to exist, but can't be found today.  I'd highly recommend you go see it on the 8th!

You can purchase your tickets for FINDING NOAH here.  Or visit the FINDING NOAH website of more information.

FINDING NOAH on Facebook
and the FINDING NOAH YouTube Channel

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'Til We Meet Again {A Tyndale Book Review}

I can't wait to share with you a wonderful new book I reviewed recently!

The official blurb:
Ray and Betty Whipps both served in Europe during WWII: Ray as an infantryman under General Patton in the trenches of Normandy, Paris, and Belgium, and Betty as a field nurse in Cherbourg, France. The two met when Betty tended to Ray after he was injured in a mortar blast. Both strong Christians, the two bonded over their shared faith, and as Betty nursed Ray back to health, they fell in love and vowed to marry after the war. However, soon after Ray returned to his unit, he was captured by German forces and held captive in Stalag VII, Germany’s largest prisoner of war camp. It was there that Ray’s faith was put to the ultimate test as he endured the most horrific weeks of his life—weeks marked by brutality, malnutrition, back-breaking labor, and near-constant death. The only thing that kept him alive was the dream of someday reuniting with Betty.

Told in first person from Ray’s perspective, with personal wartime letters from Betty interspersed throughout, ’Til We Meet Again is a sweeping love story set amid the backdrop of WWII. The perfect combination of “in the trenches” battlefield accounts and classic 1940s romance, this memoir reads almost like a novel. It is an epic story of faith, hope, and love, and a nostalgic look back at one of the most memorable periods in American history.

 OBM says:  I loved this book.  I'm a huge historical fiction fan, And this book, though a true story, and written as a memoir, reads every bit as engagingly as a fiction novel.  Ray and Betty's story unfolds mostly through Ray's narrative, and, unlike most war dramas, this one is written with no "bad language."  Ray's military career did not go as he thought it would, but it did go as God intended, resulting in him meeting Betty when she was his nurse.  Her letters punctuate the novel as well, and at first that "change of voice" took my by surprise, but it was nice to get an occasional glimpse into a first hand account of what she was thinking at the same time.  Betty and Roy seem destined not to be together because of the differences in the military ranks, but again, God has a different plan, and their reunion was all the more sweet and sure because of the trials they faced to get there,  It was a beautiful story, but more than that, an engaging enough one that I passed the book on to my 18 year old son who loves war dramas as soon as I was done so he could read it too.  I wholeheartedly recommend 'Til We Meet Again to anyone who enjoys WWII novels, historical nonfiction, historical autobiographies, or just plain old great stories.

Ray and Betty Whipps.  Aren't they adorable?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Captive- A FlyBy Review

CAPTIVE, based on a miraculous true story that drew the attention of the entire nation, is a thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives.  When Brian Nichols - on the run as the subject of a city wide manhunt and desperate to make contact with his newborn son - takes recovering meth addict Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment, she turns for guidance to Rick Warren’s best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life.  While reading aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer each face crossroads where despair and death intersect hope.  

The movie stars David Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the recent film, Selma.
Click HERE for a special greeting from David Oyelowo.

OBM says:  The book Captive was originally published as Unlikely Angel, but will be released in just a few days in theaters as a movie under the title Captive, so now the book title matches the movie.  I have not had the chance to view the movie yet, but I was given the opportunity to read the book, and have another copy to give away to a lucky reader.  The book is written by Ashley Smith, the one who was taken hostage by Brian Nichols along with Stacy Mattingly, an Atlanta based writer.  It was not an easy read, to be sure, as the subject matter is challenging-flashbacks to drug use and life changing violence in addition to the main story of the hostage situation, but the overarching theme of God's sovereigty in the whole situation and being able to watch His plan unfold as the story plays out makes it worth persevering through.  I personally can not wait to see the movie.

Because The Purpose Driven Life played such an integral part in the Captive story, people are being invited to share what gives them purpose at #FollowYourPurpose.

Here's the official Captive movie trailer:

You can follow Captive, the movie on Facebook.  Or follow Captive on Twitter.

To win your own copy of Captive, the book, just enter the giveaway below.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Last Call of Trades of Hope!

My party ends today.  Here's one more message from my friend Melissa:


JOIN - You can join Trades of Hope like I did and become a Compassionate Entrepreneur. You too can be in the business of employing women in impoverished situations while earning an income for yourself. The online training is excellent, and the sisterhood of women, local and online through Facebook is fabulous! Please comment or private message me if you would like more information.

HOST - Hostesses are the lifeblood of this missional business! As a party plan company, our hostesses allow this business to continue - providing continued employment for impoverished women and employment for women here in the US - a ripple effect of women helping women, helping women. Hosting can take on many forms - a home party, a Facebook party, a few women gathering in a cafe, a fund-raising event, etc. If this business has touched your heart, please say "yes" to hosting. We will discuss the details and determine what type of party would be best for you. It's my job to make it as easy for you as possible.

SHOP - Well,, that is easy! Amy's shopping link is : 

If you want more information about hosting or becoming a Compassionate  Entrepreneur, leave a comment below (it will be sent to me even if it doesn't show up immediately), and I will put you in touch with Melissa.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trades of Hope

Have you heard of Trades of Hope?  If not, here's the scoop:

Trades of Hope was founded in 2010 by 4 incredible women, mother/daughter duos Holly & Chelsie and Gretchen & Elisabeth, who believe that all women should be empowered and have a chance to create a better life for themselves and their families regardless of their circumstances. By creating jobs and sustainable, income-generating businesses, our artisans are able break the cycle of poverty, feed and take care of their families, and send their children to school.

This is not a charity—this is an opportunity to help women (and men) earn a living and also earn dignity and respect in their community!

The artisans, who hand craft our jewelry, scarves and home d├ęcor items are paid FIRST, at their FULL ASKING price. YES, 100% of what they need to earn a LIVING WAGE in their country. Through Fair Trade principles, they make an average of 4-6 times more selling their products through us than they would in their own country.

Trades of Hope products are sold as a home-show business, allowing them to provide self-employment for women in the U.S. as well.  Here's what my dear friend Melissa, a Trades of Hope Compassion Entrepreneur, has to say:

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this missional business. I employ women in impoverished circumstances, and they employ me!

When you Shop, Host, or Join, YOU are a part of TOH, too!

That's Melissa above wearing the Kayla ToH necklace and the Inverted Capiz earrings.

So, I'm doing a Trades of Hope online party until August 30th-you only have a few days!!!  Please, take a look at their gifts with a purpose.  Even if you aren't a big accessory person, they have some decor goods (and holiday items) AND their wares make beautiful, unique, meaningful gifts that benefit the receiver and the one who made them as well.  The link to my party is:

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

August! How'd We Get to August?

Oy!  I had intended to blog every day this month, but then life happened.  I'm not sure where to start, so I think this will be very stream of consciousness sort of stuff.

1)  This is our first week back to school.  Sari's in 5th grade, TJ's in 9th, and Mimi's in 10th.  He got a bump up when we moved to NC because they drew the "cut off date line" in a different place the year he was born than FL did, so we'll see how it goes as the year goes by, but I think he'll be fine.

2) Mimi has her learner's permit, but has spent about 20 minutes behind the wheel of my car total because the van intimidates her...that has to change.  We live in the car, by now, she should have enough hours logged to drive to the moon and back!    Where is good, positive peer pressure when you need it?

3)  Scott has a job coach who is meant to be helping him find a job, but that's a super-slow process.  They have filled out a few applications, but apparently I flubbed the first call for an interview by not understanding how the whole process was supposed to work, so he has no leads yet.  That's okay, because to be frank, they are barking up the wrong tree with the jobs they applied to.  His old job coach is currently in grad school, and the new one is still figuring things out, so in the process, we're in the weeds a bit (which is how I didn't know what to do when they called and how the interview got flubbed, but since it's for a job that wouldn't be a good fit for him anyway, I'm not too worried).

4) My garden is totally a bust (again) this year.  We got 2 meals worth of dragon's tongue beans, and maybe 3 pea pods before the heat just burned them up, but my tomatoes may or may not ever yield anything worth eating.  Sigh.  I think until we are out of this house, a garden is just a dream.  The only area in the back yard that is flat enough for a garden just doesn't get enough light to allow plants to mature at any sort of normal rate.

5)  I had a kidney stone.  They seem quite (un)popular right now among people I know. Mine took 3 weeks to pass, and so I lost 3 weeks of my summer to lying around in pain.  On the plus side, I did get some pleasure reading done ;).   Two weeks in, during a period of intense pain (I had 4 kids naturally-one at home- I'm talking serious pain here) I went to the ER just to be sure it really WAS a kidney stone and it was the size that could indeed come out on its own and that I wasn't just putting on a brave face for nothing.  SOOOO glad that is over.  I think I got it from taking Airborne on my trip to Scotland.  I read high doses of Vitamin C can cause them, especially if you aren't drinking enough.  I drink more water than most elephants, but while traveling it's hard to stay hydrated, so I think it was a one-two punch.  Lesson learned!

6)  Scotland was fabulous and I do have pictures to post, I promise.

7)  For the first time ever, about half of what my older kids are learning this year I will not be teaching them.  It will be a HUGE adjustment for them, but good for them and for me, I think.  I need to work more with Sari one on one.

8) Sari has some sort of learning issue.  Her evaluator thinks it's an eye tracking issue.  Either way, though she's made huge strides in reading, she still reads below grade level, and fluency-wise (speed wise) is equal to a kindergartner.  That has to change, so this year we will focus on some intensive therapies for her...I'm just not sure what that looks like yet.  First up is an eye appt.

9)  Em is playing volleyball right now.  She has practice 3-4 times a week.  Right at dinner time :).  Tonight is 5:30-8.  But really 5:15-8 because they need to get there early to set up.  So that's another reason she needs to get cracking on this driving thing.

10)  TJ's soccer will start soon too.  Just to add to the crazy.

I have other things I'm sure, but I'll stop there.  This listing thing makes everything seem kind of like a downer, but it's not really.  It's just busy, and crazy, and, I think, pretty normal for just about everyone I know.  I'll leave you with two pictures from last week's service project at church.  We were packing bags (care packages) for our missions team to take to India with them.  Mimi and TJ are at the far left below, and Scott is in the bottom picture making a card.  Each bag had a personal card that said something like, "You are special" or "God loves you" or something like that.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Patterns of Exidence-Exodus (A FlyBy Review and Giveaway)

I'm a total history nerd.  And a Bible nerd.  So combine history and the Bible?  I'm in.  ALL in.  Patterns of Evidence Exodus was everything I love and more.

About Patterns of Evidence Exodus:
For more than 50 years, the vast majority of the world's most prominent archaeologists and historians have proclaimed that there is no hard evidence to support the Exodus story found in the Bible.  In fact, they say that the archaeological record is completely opposed to the Bible's account.  This view of extreme skepticism has spread from academia to the world.  The case against the Exodus appears to be so strong that even some religious leaders are labeling this ancient account as historical fiction.  Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney begins with the questions, "Is the Bible just a myth, or did the archaeologists get it wrong?"  He decides to tackle this issue wit a deliberate scientific approach.   After examining the details in the biblical text, he journeys across the globe to search for patterns of evidence firsthand.  The result is the most in-depth archaeological investigation into the Exodus from Egypt ever captured on film.   This scientific documentary's goal is to communicate the TRUTH of the Bible and help equip believers with defending their faith and the Bible.
 The DVD features stunning animations and a cast including narrator, Kevin Sorbo (God's Not Dead, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), interviews with leading archaeologists including Israel Finkelstein, Kent Weeks, and David Rohl, and guest appearances by Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres

I enjoyed this DVD immensely, although it's not the kind of movie young children would enjoy.  It's more of a documentary that explains the evidence that exists for the proof of the Exodus as a real historical occurrence. My kids and I are going through Genesis right now and when we get to Exodus, I'm looking forward to watching this with them.  I want them to understand that while we take the Bible as truth on faith, there is real evidence that supports Biblical truth as well, and they can use that truth to defend their faith when it is challenged.

Patterns of Evidence Exodus was released today, and is available from the Patterns of Evidence website.  It's 119 minutes long and not rated (although there was no objectionable material that I remember).

If you'd like a chance to win a copy, and you live in the U.S. or Canada, please enter below.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Discover Education Streaming Plus- FREE until the end of August

Just a reminder about the free offer from the Homeschool Buyer's co-op.  Until the end of August, everyone can signup and get Discovery Education Streaming Plus for FREE.  I did a full blog post about it here, but below is a brief recap.

Bring Your Homeschool Lessons to Life

It's easy to see why homeschoolers rave about Discovery Education Streaming Plus. It's probably the most extensive and feature-rich educational video streaming service in the world.
It's much like having the entire DVD selection of your local public library available to you from the convenience of your home, 24/7/365.
But it's not just a collection of videos that you can watch from beginning to end. This library has been organized into useable video clips, organized and categorized, close-captioned, and supplemented with lesson plans, teaching guides, interactive simulations, images, audio resources, and other resources and materials that you can incorporate into virtually every aspect of your homeschool curriculum.
Discovery Education Streaming Plus features:
  • Thousands of full-length videos from scores of producers, segmented into tens of thousands of content-specific clips tied directly to state and national standards.
  • Supplemental resources such as Assignment Builder, Quiz Center, Writing Prompt Generator, lesson plans, and more
  • Fast and accurate search functionality and dynamic navigation menus
  • The ability to customize and personalize lessons to different subjects, grades, and learning styles
  • Comprehensive K-12 curriculum coverage in six core subject areas.
  • Thousands of images
  • Membership in the Discovery Educator Network (DEN)
  • Interactive self-paced training
  • Exclusive Discovery programming such as Frozen PlanetHuman PlanetLIFEInto the UniverseMythbusters, and Curiosity
  • Video series from trusted content providers such as BBC Worldwide, CBS News, Channel 4, Discovery Studios, Scholastic, TV Ontario, and Westin Woods
  • Hundreds of games, skill builders, and body atlas interactives
  • Thousands of self-paced math tutorials spanning concepts from basic addition to calculus
  • Thousands of audio files including podcasts, classic literature audiobooks, children's literature audiobooks from Scholastic, and numerous supplemental study aids for auditory learners

Don't miss out!!!

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Living Hope CD Review

Who is in the mood for some great music? 
 And maybe a pizza?

Or maybe both?

When I got the opportunity for this review, I was intrigued.  I'd never heard of Pizza Ranch, and the idea of a pizza place that was as focused on giving God glory as they were on making great pizza is definitely a place I would love to try...if only they were closer.

Here's a little about Pizza Ranch in case you don't know much about them:
Adrie Groeneweg had a dream that started in Hull, IA, in 1981, when he was just 19 years old.  It was simple.  Why does everyone have to drive out of town to get a pizza?  With just six specialty and single topping pizza recipes developed by Adrie's mother, Lorraine, Pizza Ranch was born.  Pizza Ranch's vision and mission is to glorify God by positively impacting the world and to give every guest a legendary experience.  They have 190+ locations across 13 states including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. 
And about Living Hope:
On June 2, 2015, Pizza Ranch released a CD called Living Hope containing twelve songs from many of their favorite Christian artists.  Most of the songs are brand-new and written exclusively for this CD around the theme of Hope.  Artists include Colton Dixon, Francesca Batistelli, Ellie Holcomb, Sidewalk Prophets, Kevin Max, Bart Millard, Passion Band featuring Kristian Stanfill, Michael W. Smith, and Mark Schultz.  

The CD will be available to purchase for $5 plus tax exclusively in Pizza Ranch restaurants or for download at through August 31.  

From Adrie Groeneweg, President & CEO of Pizza Ranch, Inc.:   
"This album has a very special meaning for Pizza Ranch.  Although Pizza Ranch is not in the music business, many things have been happening, conversations have been taking place and doors have been opening for this album.  Through these events, I believe it was obvious that God has been behind this for His specific purpose and putting it on our hearts to collectively create this project.  As such, we call this our miracle album, Living Hope."

Wow!  A pizza place that wants to give people hope, not just sell pizzas. It makes me want to drive to Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, or Colorado just to visit one!  In lieu of that though, you can buy a downloadable Living Hope CD.  I especially liked the upbeat tempo of the songs "Overcome the World" by Mark Schultz and "Panic Button" by Kevin Max, but the whole album is great, original music (except an acoustic version of  "Day One" by Matthew West, which obviously is not an original-to-this-album song).  But hurry, because the album is only available through August 31st!

If you'd like the chance to win a copy, and you live in the U.S. or Canada, just enter below.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Old Fashioned Novelization and Devotional Review and Prize Pack Giveaway!

If you remember just a few weeks ago, I had a review of the movie Old Fashioned.  Now, it's my privilege to bring you this review of the novelization and an accompanying devotional as well as a giveaway prize pack for ALL THREE!!!

The Novelization:

Turning his back on his reckless lifestyle, former frat boy Clay Walsh has settled down to turn an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town....and to purse lofty and outdated theories on love and romance.  But when Amber Hewson, a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can't help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.  Amber also finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay, but his ideas about relationships are unusual to say the least, and they bring to light her own deep wounds and fears about love.  They say opposites attract, but can Clay and Amber move beyond their differences and their pasts to attempt an "old fashioned" courtship?
OBM says:  303 pages; Softcover
I enjoyed the book even more than the movie.  It explains a little more what the characters are thinking and feeling, but also, it does away with the distracting flashback scenes and yet still manages to get across the idea that Clay is plagued by his past.  I feel far fewer reservations about allowing my teens to read the book than I do about watching the movie because the imagery from Clay's past isn't presented "in living color" in the book the way a movie has to do it.  I would whole-heartedly recommend the book, and was pleasantly surprised, since it was a novelization of a movie, and not the other way around.

The Devotional:

Contrary to popular opinion, being "old fashioned" doesn't mean you're dull or unromantic.  In fact, a true old fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you've ever experienced!  So what does it mean to do things the old fashioned way?  Sure, it means opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow.  But a true old fashioned romance goes much, much deeper than that.  Inspired by the motion picture Old Fashioned, this book will show you how to reclaim the lost art of romance by introducing you to romantic love as God intended it.  Regardless of your past mistakes, where you've been, what you've done, or where you are now, you can find and create a love that will last a lifetime!  As you work your way through this forty-day journey of inspiring readings and questions for reflection, you'll discover all the unique and amazing benefits of doing things the old fashioned way.  And before you know it, you'll be well on your way to creating a love story for the ages.
OBM says:  222 pages; Softcover
This devotional strikes me as having more appeal and practical use to single people than married couples, and that makes sense since that is the status of the main characters of the movie the devotional is based upon.  But it certainly has great value to the demographic it is geared toward.  This devotional seeks to change your heart in 40 days toward how you view dating and romance and how to define them well in a God honoring way without going to extremes.  It's got great advice that really makes you think,  Each lesson is short, but has a devotional message followed by some type of application- a quiz, journal entry, "Consider This" questions, or "Put it into Practice" exercises.  Any single or unwed couple would be lucky to have this resource.

Both resources can be purchased from CBD or you can enter The Giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, June 15, 2015

An Update in Quick Takes

I wish I could pick up the phone and update everyone individually, but I'm running around like a mad woman, so quick takes it is!

Where to start?

My husband is currently is Scotland.  He'll be there for 2 weeks.  The highs there are in the low 60s.  The lows are in the 40s.  The high here tomorrow will be 100.  And we're not in FL anymore.  Calgone, take me away!

But wait, I am going Scotland too.  I think.  I have my ticket, and I am meant to fly out Thursday evening.  But my in-laws are watching the kids for a week, and they've spent all morning in the ER with a possible blood clot in my F-I-L's leg.  It sounds like he's about to be discharged, so I hope that means everything is okay because I am meant to be flying out from down there, not to mention the whole four kids needing somewhere to be thing.

Speaking of somewhere to middle two kiddos aren't going to camp this year.  It took about 4 days for my daughter to speak to me after we told her.  We just don't have anywhere to stay.  At least not the 3 of us who wouldn't be at camp.  I mean, we have a house with nothing in it, but I'd have to bring everything we needed for the week including air mattresses, towels, linens, food, utensils, etc.  PLUS have me packed for Scotland PLUS have them packed for a week at Nana and Pop Pop's and then a week at camp...the van just doesn't hold that much, and I just can't do it.  So no seeing all my friends this summer :(.

Speaking of our house...we still own it.  Contract number 5 fell through literally days before closing.

Mimi decided instead of camp that she wanted to try out for the homeschool competitive volleyball team.  It cost $50 to TRY OUT.  Seriously.  At the first day of tryouts, it was obvious to me that she was a little out of her league because most of these girls had played on last year's team and they were good, where as Mimi had only done a volleyball class at our co-op in the spring.  But I have to give her credit, she stuck in there.  She did her very best.  She didn't make the competitive team, but did make the development team that is groomed for the competitive team.  She has a meet and greet for that right before we head out of town to drive them to their grandparents because, well, why not?

I love having friends I can just send emergency book suggestion texts to.  Thanks Aunt Fanny ;)  Sadly, neither library system had ebooks available that I hadn't read from your suggestions, but given that I have like a gazillion free books on my Kindle right now, I eventually just caved in and committed to reading a few of those.

Oh, and I had a kid graduate.  It was actually kind of awesome because this wonderful woman in our homeschool group was in charge of the event, and it was very low key, and one of the grads rod ea hobby horse down the aisle, and one twirled a basketball on his finger, and one putted a golf ball, and Scott danced Gangnam style and fit in perfectly.  They prayed over the graduates by name and had the whole room pray over them-it was awesome!

What else, what else...Mimi may be doing Algebra and English all summer long...

Mimi's been on the yearbook committee for our homeschool group.  Having a yearbook will be a new thing for us.  Can't wait to see it.  She designed the cover.

I teaching a portraiture class at our co-op in the fall.  You can stop laughing now, I'm co-teaching it really, and you KNOW my "co" part won't be much in the way of art instruction!

My kids took their first standardized test recently, but we don't have the results back should be...interesting.

Sari will be tested in July when we get back.

My poor garden is going to get beat out by this heat I think.  We've had 2 dinners' worth of beans and a handful of blueberries..oh, and 6 pea pods.  I'm not sure what will survive 2 weeks of my not being here.

Sari is finally not attached at the hip, and has spent the night at a friend's house a few times!!!

I think that's it.  Please pray we make it to FL safe and on time, that my F-I-L is fine, that my i-laws can survive the kids (they are really worried about being worn out by 4 kids), and that all my flights work out without a hitch- I have a 46 minutes layover  to make a connecting flight.


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